Ideas Geneva

Wowza!  The City of Geneva has launched ideasgeneva.com. This initiative encourages folks to come up with “ideas for improving the quality of life in the city.”  How cool is this?!

I can’t wait to see what happens with this!  I also can’t wait to try and come up with some ideas of my own!  Last year the NYT featured the “white dinner” in Paris — how cool would that be?!  Oh the possibilities…..Apologies for all the exclamation marks in this post….

The Rise of Small Towns

This picture was taken in Penn Yan, which is another small town that is 25 minutes from Geneva.  According to Wikipedia, Penn Yan is short for “Pennsylvania Yankee”.

I’m probably paying more attention to small communities because I now live in one.  Nevertheless, there seems to be some exciting work going on in many smaller, rural communities these days.  This shift toward hip, sustainable, walkable, local-biz friendly communities is being documented by a number of authors, including the following:

  • Katie McCaskey:  How to Radically Revitalize America:  A Micropolitan Manifesto (check out the PDF – it’s succinct and very nicely put together)
  • Catherine Tumber:  Small, Gritty and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World
  • Barry Moltz and Becky McCray:  Small Town Rules:  How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy

It’s exciting to live in one of these places.  Sometimes it seems like you can feel the transformation taking place.  In no small part thanks to all the work being done by citizens and local businesses alike.

Potsdam, NY

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I am up in the North Country this week and stopped for lunch in this delightful little village called Potsdam (3.5 hours north of Geneva). Here is some nerdy local government trivia straight from Wikipedia:

Potsdam was the seventh town erected by an Act of the Legislature passed February 21, 1806. It is said to have been named thus by the commissioners on the discovery by the surveyors of a bed of reddish sandstone resembling the Potsdam sandstone in the town of that name in Germany.

Fantastic Sustainability Lecture

Catherine Tumber, author of Small, Green and Gritty, is going to be speaking in Geneva as part of the HWS Sustainable Community Lecture Series.  Yay!  Patrick Cullina, former Chief Horticulturalist for the amazing High Line park in New York City and Professor Josh Cerra from the Department of Landscape Architecture at Cornell will also be speaking.  Double yay! 

The whole thing is going down on April 2 at 7 p.m. at the Cracker Factory (I keep meaning to write a post about the Cracker Factory.  For now, check out this blog post from The Scout).

Coolest small town in America

The Finger Lakes Blog noted that Hammondsport, NY, was recently named the coolest small town in America according to Budget Travel.  Hammondsport is about 50 minutes southwest of Geneva.  To get there, you drive along the scenic Keuka Lake.  Not a bad a journey.  While there is only about 700 people who actually live in Hammondsport, it’s got a vibrant and quaint little downtown.  There are a handful of restaurants, a hippie bakery, an art gallery/store and the requisite upstate NY antique store.

Trummansburg architecture

Last weekend we went to a little town called Trummansburg (45 mins from Geneva). This is a picture of the downtown.
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Right behind the downtown there is a little creek.
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This neat looking house is being built right along the creek. It is kind of tucked into the landscape and not visible from the road (we were walking around and stumbled upon it).
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This is a completely different house, which is also in the process of being built. It’s also kind of funky looking. We weren’t expecting to find these interesting houses in this little town!
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I heart Farm Sanctuary

In his book, Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer reviews the practice of factory farming and asks us to consider how much pollution, health risk and animal suffering we’re willing to endure for a piece of meat.  The information in the book made my stomach turn.  It’s a complete horror story.

Thankfully, there are a few glimmers of hope peppered throughout the book.  One example is a fantastic organization in Watkins Glen called Farm Sanctuary.  Watkins Glen is about 35 minutes from Geneva and is home to some beautiful waterfalls and some serious car racing.  Farm Sanctuary is exactly what you might imagine – a refuge for sick and mistreated farm animals.  They also work to raise awareness and promote change about how farm animals are treated.

Before reading Foer’s book, I had no idea how urgently we need to change factory farm practices (I don’t know how things compare in Canada).  I’m not sure yet how or if I’m going to change my eating habits.  Should I become a full-time vegetarian?  Should I try to find ethical meat?  Do I really need to research where all my food comes from?  Apart from my personal eating habits, what else can I do?  Wherever I land on these questions, I will definitely support Farm Sanctuary’s work and I can’t wait to visit when it opens again in the spring.

For more pictures of Farm Sanctuary animals (like the picture of Tweed the Calf, below), check out this article at the Huffington Post.

Update:  Natalie Portman may be making a documentary based on Eating Animals.

Outlet Trail, Dresden, NY

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We went for a hike this weekend along the Outlet Trail. It runs along a wee canal between Dresden and Penn Yan (side note: I really need to look into some of the place names around here). It was a quiet afternoon and we ran into several fathers and sons out hunting (their bright orange clothing and guns gave them away as hunters). We were a bit concerned that we weren’t wearing orange. Is hunting something that you need to be thinking about when you’re out for a hike? We should figure this out before setting out again.

Anyway. The trail runs along a former railway track (I think). It’s flat and doesn’t meander to the same degree as the canal. Along the way, we eventually ran into a couple of abandoned industrial buildings. Kind of spooky and neat at the same time. Certainly not your average walk in the park!